Contemporary arts of the XX and XXI century
Born in Montefano in the province of Macerata in 1901, Ghergo began his career in his brother's studio, where he picked up his first technical skills and learnt the technique of camera obscura. In 1929 he moved to Rome where he opened a photography studio in via Condotti and made a name for himself as a portrait artist in Rome's high society. His work, featuring a technique based on taking a photograph and then doing additional work on it later became fashionable. Ghergo also established a special rapport with Cinecittà, becoming the "photographer of the stars". The numerous 20th century personalities who posed for Ghergo include Pope Pius XII, Luigi Einaudi, Alcide De Gasperi, the Aga Khan, Pietro Badoglio, Sofia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Gina Lollobrigida, Vittorio Gassman and Amedeo Nazzari. Ghergo was one of the pioneers of fashion photography in Italy, and he later turned his hand to advertising and to painting as well.
The retrospective, curated by Claudio Domini and Cristina Ghergo, comprises some 150 vintage photographs, most of which are in black and white. It covers the entire span of Ghergo's career, from his first steps in the 1930s right up to his encounter with the new technique of colour photography on the threshold of the 1960s. Ghergo's photographs portray personalities beyond the reach of the common mortal against the backdrop of an Italy in the grip of euphoria as it experienced the economic boom and filled the dance halls, the cinemas and the theatres. In 1937 Mussolini inaugurated Cinecittà: 75,000 metres of roads, squares and gardens bearing more than a passing resemblance to Hollywood. This era was marked in the cinema by the search for consensus, by mystification and regime propaganda offering a flight from daily reality.
Ghergo's work became synonymous with what audiences came to expect, and it took the glossies by storm. Elegant and cold, his photographs moved in step with new international artistic tastes, shifting from Art Noveau to Art Déco.
He captured the features of Galeazzo Ciano, Pietro Badoglio, Pius XII, Sofia Loren, Silvana Mangano, Ingrid Bergman and Gianni Agnelli - images that embody the memory of a country and its history. His photographs are static and statue-like, devoid of all movement and gesture, frozen in a classic, timeless composition.
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